Orinda City Council Names Ten to New Oversight Commission

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Yasaman Lee

    In response to the voter-approved half-cent sales tax increase effective April 1, the Orinda City Council announced the Supplemental Sales Tax Oversight Commission (SSTOC), with Jud Hammon acting as temporary chairman. Measure R revenue is estimated to generate $600,000 from April through June and approximately $2.4 million per fiscal year thereafter.
    This 10-member Commission will make recommendations, provide advice and report on the expenditures incurred by the City Council and staff for programs, services and projects. They include efforts to impact wildfire threats, disaster planning and emergency response, critical public storm drainage infrastructure and long-term road repair and maintenance.
    Meet the appointed Commissioners:
    Kyle Arteaga moved to Wilder in 2019. “In the recent election, it was difficult to understand who to believe related to Measure R. I want to clarify the communications so that all residents can learn more if they are interested and help them understand how and why decisions were made.”
    Brad Barber, a Glorietta neighborhood resident since 1988 served four years on the Moraga Orinda Fire Department Board. He said, “We need to work with MOFD and neighboring communities,” to recommend a program to reduce the risk of wildfire and “a plan to finish all road and storm drain repair and restoration that was begun with the last two bond issues.” He is interested in examining plans for responses to other emergencies too, such as earthquakes.
    Chris Decareau, an architect by profession, served on the Citizens’ Infrastructure Oversight Committee and has “expertise in building performance with respect to fire.” He said, “I can continue to contribute on infrastructure as well as provide a take on neighborhood and building fire resiliency.”
    Jud Hammon, a resident since 1993, served as Chairman of the Citizens’ Oversight Infrastructure Committee and was a member of the Traffic Safety Advisory Committee. He ranks wildfire risk mitigation and disaster preparedness as the top priority, followed by storm drain and road maintenance. He said, “Larger, corrugated metal pipe culverts have a typical lifespan of 50 years. Many of ours are 60 to 70 years old.”
    Rachelle Latimer, a native Orindan who moved home to the Bates-Muth neighborhood 14 years ago, served six years on a board with similar issues and priorities. “Because our roads are in good shape, I feel we can focus our energy over the next three years on developing and implementing a plan to address wildfire threats, including fire fuel reduction, disaster planning and emergency response,” she said.
    Yasaman N. Lee, a 14-year resident on Tahos Road, served on the Finance Advisory Committee and is a CERT and Firewise member. “My goal is to understand and assess the needs and priorities. Without understanding the depth of issues at hand, a rationale for this committee, it is premature to set a specific agenda,” she said.
    Melanie Light, a resident since 1998, lives in the Country Club neighborhood. Serving on this Commission is, “a natural extension of my work with Firewise and the Orinda Firewise Council.” She wants education and outreach programs established, excess fuel removed from all city property and partnerships established with stakeholders in place and active.
    Latika Malkani, an 18-year, South Orinda/Del Rey resident, identifies fire preparation and emergency preparedness as priority goals. She also notes the need for better vegetation management and maintenance on Orinda properties, public education, access to a chipper program and assisting residents with fire insurance renewal. “I want to help formulate and recommend strategic plans – for not only the next three years, but for the next 20 years,” she said.
    Paula Reinman lives in the Orinda Oaks area and has been a resident for 30-plus years. Her vision is to ensure “revenue generated from Measure R is used efficiently and effectively in ways that the voters intended.” She said, “Being part of the committee lets me give back in a way that is critical to our safety and quality of life.”
    Alex Weinstein moved to Sleepy Hollow two years ago. Using a “critical eye to the expenditures and recommendations,” he plans to deploy, “a careful, analytical and pragmatic approach to evaluating the cost and benefit to expenditures.” He said, “One of my guiding principles is a belief that citizens of a community have the ability (and responsibility) to improve and enhance their community.”
    “The members of this Commission bring a broad range of areas of interest and expertise,” said Hammon. “We all look forward to working together for all Orindans.”

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